Sports have a way of bringing out the best and the worst in all of us. Just ask any local umpire if he or she wants to umpire a slow pitch church league game. There is nothing like an enraged Baptist preacher hyped up on adrenalin that will put the fear of the Almighty in you.
Rarely does Division II women’s softball get the headlines in the dog-eat-dog world of sports, especially a battle between longtime basement dwellers like Western Oregon and Central Washington. These two programs for years had historically spent the playoff studying for exams. However this year they found themselves in a winner take all battle to make the playoffs. Whoever emerged victorious after this double header on a beautiful April afternoon in Ellensburg would get the opportunity to make the NCAA playoffs for the first time in a long time.
Central Washington won the first game 8-1, and was now in position to claim their playoff berth. The score was tied 0-0 in the bottom of the second, when rarely used senior centerfielder Sara Tucholsky stepped to the plate to the heckling of the small rambunctious crowd. The first pitch as a strike. On the second pitch little 5’2 Tucholsky connected with all her might and the ball went sailing toward the centerfield fence. To her amazement and the disbelief of the hometown fans the ball cleared the fence for her first career home run. In her excitement, Tucholsky missed first base and abruptly stopped to return to the bag. Something popped in her knee and she fell to the dirt writhing in pain. While the fans watched the two lead runners cross the plate, first base coach Shannon Prochaska came to Tucholsky’s side. She knew not to touch her because if she did the home run would be cancelled, and Sara would be out. She discussed the dilemma with the umpire, and quickly reviewed her options. If Sara could crawl back to first base, and a pinch runner could enter the game, and she would be credited with powerful two-run single.
This appeared under the circumstances to be the logical heart-breaking choice for Sara that is until a third voice entered the conversation. Central Washington senior first baseman Mallory Holtman interrupted the conversation saying, “Excuse me, would it be OK if we carried her around and she touched each bag?” After a brief moment of scratching their heads, and realizing there were no rules against an opponent carrying a runner around the bases the idea was hatched and sports history was made. Holtman and shortstop Liz Wallace picked up Sara and carried her back to first so she could gingerly touch the bag, and they made their way around the bases giggling all the way until they reach home plate and Tucholsky recorded her first and only home run in her career.
What possesses an opponent to go to such measures for another? “Honestly, it’s one of those things that I hope anyone would do it for me, “said Holtman. “She hit the ball over her fence. She’s a senior; it’s her last year…I don’t know, it just one of those things I guess that maybe because compared to everyone on the field at the time, I had been playing longer and knew we could touch her, it was my idea first. But I think anyone who knew that we could touch her would have offered to do it, just because it is the right thing to do. She was obviously in agony.”
I don’t know if anyone would do this, but I am proud for her and her teammates that she did. This act of kindness and compassion eventually led to Central Washington’s defeat, but for once both teams walked or “limped” away as winners.
Jesus had a point when He challenged His followers with these words:
12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matt 7:12 (NIV)
Life does not have to be nearly as complicated and gray as we make it. This principle applies to every situation we face in life from the office to the baseball diamond. Can you imagine how much the world would change if we simply put into practice this “golden rule”?
The next time you have a chance to make history do it, especially when it is as simple as giving someone a lift home!
Note if you want to read the full story from ESPN below is the address: